A Fumble-Free Alarm App With A Brilliant Gestural UI

Heavy sleeper? This app, from Tiny Hearts, makes you shake your phone until you wake.

Everyone has tricks for motivating themselves out of bed: alarms set at a deafening volume, the Rocky soundtrack instead of a ringtone, or a phone or clock stashed far away from the bed.


The new Wake Alarm app from developers Tiny Hearts works a little like that last trick. There are three settings for Wake, for three kinds of sleepers: Instead of tapping or swiping the screen to disable the alarm, Wake Alarm needs a slap, flip, or a shake to quiet down.

“The slap-and-flip option is great for people who don’t want to fumble with their phone in the mornings,” Tiny Hearts founder Robleh Jama tells Co.Design. “Placing your hand over your phone will trigger the snooze, while flipping over your phone will turn off your alarm. And for heavy sleepers like us, there’s the shake mode, which forces you to shake your iPhone until you get up.”

Jama and the Toronto-based Tiny Hearts are the team behind Pocket Zoo, the educational virtual zoo app, and InstaMatch, a game similar to Memory but with Instagram images. For Wake Alarm, their third venture, Tiny Hearts is taking a stab at the single-use utility app market. Jama says he found inspiration in minimal interfaces like the original iPod click wheel and the Nest thermostat–which explains the glowing circle that anchors the Wake interface.

But Wake is also the latest entry in a recent trend of minimally designed, gesture-based third party alarm apps. We wrote about Rise, an app with no buttons, just a drag-and-drop model for setting the time and a beautiful gradient of color that changes with the time of day. The Wake Up alarm from Uniqlo offers an alternative to Apple’s home app, with clean and punchy iconography.

Wake Alarm is novel because it’s actually a little old fashioned: “We looked at our relationship with traditional alarm clocks, which is how we came up with the more natural slap to snooze interaction,” Jama says. “It’s our way of putting a modern twist to an old-school invention.”

Wake Alarm is available in the App Store for the launch sale price of $1.99. Later, it will cost $2.99.


About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.